Teri Mann

Teri Mann of Marshalltown, Iowa, taught her two sons to cook and says they now call her for recipes.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — In some ways, the booster club and the pork producers were the ones who made Teri Mann into a cook.

“I didn’t cook in high school and college,” Mann says.

Cooking in those days was what her mother and sister did.

“It was hard work,” she says with a laugh.

But after her years at West Marshall High School and Ellsworth Community College, she got married. She and her husband, Glen, settled down on the farm and began to raise a family. A big garden eventually led to canning. Youth sporting activities led to tailgates and fundraisers. Work with the pork producers led to grilling.

“I just started to enjoy it more and more,” Mann says. “I really learned it from my mother and sister.”

Eventually, though, Mann set her own path. She even started her own catering business, grilling and preparing from-scratch meals for weddings and graduations.

“I really enjoy grilling meats,” she explains. “We made everything from scratch and it was busy, but it was enjoyable.”

When her two sons were little she would prepare a meal and take them out to the field.

“It was just an outdoor picnic for them,” she says. “And sometimes I would put them on the floor of the combine cab while we harvested. We kind of raised the boys in the combine.”

Today the two boys, Allen (and his wife, Tessa) and Bennett (and his wife, Kacey), are involved in agriculture. One works for a seed company while the other farms with his parents and his uncle, Duane.

The boys learned to cook from their mother during those days spent in the kitchen preparing picnic meals.

“They’re always texting, asking ‘How do you make that?’” Mann says.

Meanwhile, Mann is still trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, and she’s still grilling for the family.

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Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.